Information about Diabetes in Children and Adolescents

{SCA} About 186,300 young people under 20 years of age have diabetes. Most of them have type 1 diabetes.

As obesity rates in children continue to soar, type 2 diabetes, a disease that used to be seen primarily in adults over age 45, is becoming more common in young people.

Children with diabetes and their families face unique challenges when dealing with diabetes.

While it used to be that children or teenagers diagnosed with diabetes had type 1 diabetes, there has been a significant increase in type 2 diabetes in these age groups in recent years.

This increase is so startling that it is being called an epidemic. Type 2 diabetes, which used to be called adult-onset diabetes, occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or loses its ability to efficiently use insulin. Until recently, it was usually diagnosed only in adults over the age of 30.

Researchers are studying this new phenomenon and do not yet fully understand the reasons for such a change. Some believe that the increased incidence of obesity in children and adolescents, along with sedentary lifestyles and poor eating habits, is responsible.

Puberty may play a major role in the development of type 2 diabetes in children. Everyone experiences an increase in insulin resistance during puberty. In recent years the ability to compensate for this is absent in a growing number of adolescents who are developing type 2 diabetes.

Most of the youngsters diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. Meal plans for these patients will be designed to promote weight loss, which in itself has positive effects on blood glucose levels by reducing insulin resistance.

Some people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels through diet and exercise. Many will also need to take anti-diabetes pills that help their body to either produce more insulin, use the insulin more efficiently or block glucose absorption. Eventually, many will need insulin injections.